Figurines and Faded Wallpaper
“Welcome home, Henry,” Dad said, walking in for a hug.
His sweater vest was as itchy as ever as my arms wrapped around him. Everything about the hug felt unnatural. The feel of his arms around me, the awkward way my arms patted his back as his head rested on my chest.
“Hi, Dad,” I said.
“I hope the trip wasn’t too long,” he said as he released me and walked over to Gwen to give her a hug.
Gwen took a step back, holding her arm out to him, “Nope on both counts.”
“Not one for hugs. Got it,” Dad said turning toward the house. “Well, come in and make yourselves at home. I haven’t had visitors in so long I’m all flustered with excitement.”
I pinched the bridge of my nose and closed my eyes. I wasn’t sure how long he intended to hold up the charade that was happening before me, but I hoped it would end sooner rather than later.
“You okay?” Gwen asked as my father walked through the front door.
“I’m fine, it’s just stress,” I replied, looking up at the house. “I didn’t want to be here in the first place, and now I have to deal with whatever it is my father is trying to pull.”
“It’ll only be for a few days, then we can go,” she said putting a hand on my back.
“I wonder how long it’ll take for the real him to rear its ugly head?” I muttered.
“What’s that?” Gwen asked.
“Nothing. Let’s just get inside.”
I followed Gwen into the house, which looked as though my grandmother had decorated it twenty years ago. It seemed different than the last time I had seen it, but the faded wallpaper and porcelain nick-nacks scattered throughout the living room made me feel as though my father had truly lost his mind.
“Looks nice, right?” Dad asked, practically beaming with pride.
I felt my anger flare. I couldn’t stop it. The air pulled harder, and my ears got hot. I wanted to burn the house down while he was tied to a chair. I longed to make him hurt for everything he had done. The last thing I wanted to do was compliment him on his decorating skills.
“Mom would have hated it,” I said as I turned up the stairs slow enough to watch his smile falter. “I’m going to relax for a minute and catch my breath. Could you come with me, Gwen?”